« PrécédentContinuer »
and that moderate estimate of their worth, which disposes the Christian rather to detach his affections from present objects, than to be inordinately excited by them. The near view of eternity peculiarly assists him in this moderation as to worldly enjoyments. The time is short: the end of all things is at hand. Of what real value then are those objects which will soon disappear from his view. Of what value are those gratifications which in a few flecting years or months will be powerless any longer to please. He considers life as a pilgrimage, and these enjoymients as but the accommodations of an ind. They are not his heritage; they are not his own: he is but a tenant will, and may to-morrow be dispossessed of them all.
2d. Prone however to be misled by his senses, he feels the necessity of incessant walchfulness. “Be ye therefore sober, and watch.” His natural love of ease, his reluctance to self-denial will but too readily dispose him to adopt the theory, rather than the practice of sobriety. Hence it becomes his duty to be ever vigilant over his own spirit, to examine candidly and constantly the actual habit of his mind; to watch diligently lest he act inconsistently with his professed principles; lest the world exert an undue influence over his heart; lest self-delusion put him off his guard, and open his bosom to the inroads of temptation, to the willing suggestion of his spiritual foes, and to the inordinate cares of the present life. “ Be sober," saith St. Peter, “ be vigilant, for your adversary, the devil, goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, whom resist steadfast in the faith;” and he who is aware of the frequency of temptation, and of his own weakness and inconstancy in its resistance, will the more perceive the importance of this vigilance. “Watch," said our Saviour, " lest ye enter into temptation.” The power of evil is proportioned to its contiguity. When distant, it is more easily resisted; when ncar, it more efficiently entangles the heart. To watch against its approach, is, therefore, to resist it with success. How much sorrow and bitterness of recollection would have been spared to the souls of believers, if vigilance had ever secured them against the approach of a danger, which when contiguous, they had not
Who can tell the full value of a mind which is habituated to watch the rising movements of evil; and to give notice of the first intimations of sin!
This wakeful spirit will receive much vigor and encourage
power to resist.
ment from the anticipation of the near approach of the day of God. The recollection of eternity is ever powerful to brace the resolution of the timid, and to stimulate the indolence of the slothful. “Watch, for ye know not the day nor the hour when the Son of Man cometh.” He is certainly coming, and his coming will be as a thief in the night. Wait, then, for his appearing. Watch the intimations of bis approach.
3d. But the Apostle directs believers to connect this sobriety, and this vigilance with PRAYER. Indeed prayer is the only source of this sobriety and this watchfulness of mind. The brightest impressions fade from the soul if they are not renewed continually by the grace and blessing of God. Hence prayer is to the Christian the very life and health of his soul. When our Saviour said to the Apostles, watch” he added, " and pray;" and here St. Peter enjoins, “ watch unto prayer;" that is, “pray without ceasing." And truly, every Christian has too well proved the value and the sweetness of prayer, to doubt of the prudence of this advice. Prayer is to him, intercourse with God, the confession of sin, the confidence of faith, the interchange of love, the leaning of the heart upon the power and grace of Jesus Christ. A real Christian is never long happy, if long retained from prayer. His heart is dull; bis joy is diminished; his peace is broken; his prospects overclouded, if he restrains prayer before God. Prayer is not to him the servile effort of conscience, the calculation of interest, the command of custom; but rather the breathing forth of his fondest wishes, and of his highest hopes, to his Father and his God! In prayer he forgets the world, and remembers Jesus! In prayer he pleads before God the promises of everlasting truth, and is refreshed by the overflowings of divine grace and love! Love is the master-principic of religion; and hence, prayer is the willing homage of the heart. “My soul thirsteth for Gud.” “As the hart panteth after the water-brooks, so panteth my soul aster God." How intense is this desire thus expressed by the Psalmist, and it is the true and legitimate notion of prayer.
And the connection of prayer with the near view of eternity is very evident. It is by prayer that all vivid impressions of religion are maintained upon the heart. And nothing tends more powerfully to form these impressions than the contemplation of invisible things! “The end of all things is at hand!” Therefore live in prayer, and let your conversation be in heaven, from
whence you look for the coming of the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
My fellow Christians! use, then, the recurring periods of time for this great and important end, to impress upon your minds the vanity of earthly things, and the absorbing importance of those that are heavenly and eternal! Look back upon any past year, and retrace the abounding mercies of God. Look forward and remember the uncertainty of the future! Ere another year has run its course, you may have done with the interests of time! Live, then, in sobriety, and watchfulness, and prayer. Be preparing daily for your last hour. “Blessed are those servants whom when their Lord comcth he shall find watching!" Gird yourselves afresh for his service, and renew with diligence the race which he has set before you! How inconceivably glorious are those realities to which he has directed your attention! “ Eye hath not scen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him; but he hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit.” Walk then, worthy of God, who hath called you into his eternal kingdom and glory. If life be sparcd, let the future time be a season of greater devotedness, of livelicr zcal, of warmer love, of more diligent watchfulness, of more ardent prayer! Consider more distinctly than you have ever yet done, the relationship which exisis between you and God. “ You are not your own, but his, bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your bodies and spirits, which are his."
Endeavor, for this end, more fully and powerfully to bring your minds into contact with eternity. It is emphatically said of Moses, that "he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” When God is present to the soul, it shrinks from that which is low, and sordid, and carthly, and selfish. Under the conviction of his friendship, the Christian will rise above the petty objects of time and sense, and long to “ be made meet for the inheritance of the saints in light!" He will long to conduct himself suitably to bis high calling, and to imitate that Saviour, " whose he is, and whom he serves.” My brethren in Christ, surely the recollection of that mercy which, against all our deserts, and above all our fears, hath united us to Christ, and made us heirs of eternal felicity; surely the recollection of this mercy is entirely calculated to raise the tone of our morality; to make us indefatigable in duty, “always abounding in the work of the Lord.” Shall the men of the world
be so diligent to secure the rewards which perish; and shall we be slothful to toil for God, in sight of that “ crown of life which fadeth not away?" Let us contemplate the future with the solemn resolution made in God's strength, “ to live no longer to ourselves, but to him who died for us and rose again.” Let us awake to a keeper and more candid inspection of every part of our conduct, that we may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour, and vindicate before an opposing world, those truths of God " which are indeed according to godliness." Let “our light shine," that others may be blessed through our instramentality. The time is very short; 5 the night is far spent. the day is at hand. Let us cast off the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light.” A few short years and he whom we expect and desire, will come. He doth not forget his church, which he hath purchased with his blood. His happiness as Mediator is incomplete, until his rcdeemed shall see him face to face, and fully partake his glory. Oh, he longs for the time of ful} redemption more than the most suffering saint ever longed for it! even for that moment when he shall say to God in the regions of bliss, “ Behold I, and the children which thou hast given me."
THE SECOND COMING OF THE SON OF MAN.
By the Rev. EDWARD CRAIG, A. M.,
MATTHEW xxiv, 37. As the days of Noah were, so sball also the coming of the Son of Man be.
THERE is something very tremendous in this announcement; and something deeply interesting to us all. On that solemn occasion, we must all be present to take our part; and if it be true that that day shall burst unexpectedly upon a large portion
of mankind, it becomes us to look diligently to ourselves, that we may be found ready, watching unto prayer, with all seriousness and perseverance, redeeming the time.
With a view, then, to impress our minds more powerfully, let us consider the similarity which is thus declared to exist between the two cases,—the coming of the Flood, and the coming of the Son of man; between the destruction of the old world, and of that which is now present.
I. And first, we will speak of the awful event which the early Scriptures record, as happening in the days of Noah. “ The flood came and took them all away,” or as St. Luke says, “ Destroyed them all.” The whole surface of the earth was covered with an extraordinary flood of waters; and “all flesh dicd.”
There are several points in the case which it will be well to notice successively; but previously I would observe, that the evidence of facts is now considered as having abundantly established the truth of such an universal deluge, as the book of Genesis records. It was at one time the fashion with modern infidels to deny this. But as the face of the earth has become better known, and the researches of men into the phenomena of its surface have become more abundant, accurate, and well arranged; the proofs have so extensively accumulated, that every fair and candid mind has been compelled to admit the fact. The geological proofs are now ample, that at some time not very remote, the waters of the ocean have flowed over the tops of the highest mountains; and from this point of the argument, which has so long been made one of the strong-holds of Satan, and in which the question was carried only by the presumptuoas assertions of a few, against the admitted ignorance of many, the abettors of a base, dishonorable, and carping infidelity have been compelled for ever to retire. The presumption against such a penal visitation has been silenced by facts. But whatever are the proofs which the surface of the earth exhibits of the deluge, we receive it not on that ground, though we are thankful for the confirmatory evidence; we receive it on the strength of the Scripture testimony, and we proceed to notice from the account of it there given, several interesting particulars. And,
Ist. This fearful judgment was for sometime threatened. hung for a long time over that devoted race which peopled the old world. “God said to Noah, The end of all flesh is come